Directed by Richard Attenborough
Produced by Richard Attenborough
Written by Henry S. Villard, James Nagel, Allan Scott, Dimitri Villard, Clancy Sigal and Anna Hamilton Phelan
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Chris O’Donnell, Mackenzie Astin,Margot Steinberg,Alan Bennett,Ingrid Lacey,and Emilio Bonucci
The fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s unrequited love for Agnes von Kurowsky.
Over the many years, Ernest Hemingway had loved many women but one woman he loved made quite an impression on him. The trauma of their failed relationship haunted him for many years, and she serves the basis for ”Catherine Barkley” from his beloved novel: A Farewell to Arms. In Love and War is a chronicle of their supposed love affair that takes many liberties with the truth. Off the bat, I must say In Love and War isn’t a very good film but isn’t completely bad one either. It has truly touching and strong moments. Released as a theatrical film yet In Love and War’s production values is more in line with a TV movie. The only real battle scene lacks any scale and is very low key to be effective, but it does have lots of emotion to take a tug at your heartstrings.
Much like the film itself, Chris O’Donnell’s Ernest Hemingway is a mediocre one who walks an awkward line between a heartthrob and a ”starving artist”. Luckily, Sandra Bullock’s Anges is a stronger performance in part due to her strong natural charisma. The chemistry between both of the actors is far from strong. However, it is quite believable. The others from the cast are great as well but nothing really notable to notice. However, the particular fate of one character is harrowing enough that it speaks volumes of the harshness of war.
Though the entire film lacks the production values, you would expect nonetheless the Italian scenery lends the film an air of authenticity. The point of this tale to tell the shocking heartbreak of Ernest Hemingway after losing his great love, this focus doesn’t come until the tail end of the movie, so it feels quite underdeveloped; probably because Ernest Hemingway himself needs more characterization.
Much of the film’s tension comes out of Anges having the dilemma to choose between a high-class Italian doctor and Ernest Hemingway as her potential husband, a tension that started over the matter of amputating Ernest’s leg or not to save her. It’s a pretty clever way to start the whole matter, but it feels like at moments the only reason that Anges is attracted to the Italian doctor is that of the favor she owned the doctor over this matter. The Italian doctor is left undeveloped, and he has no interaction with Ernest Hemingway for any of the characters to have any sort of rivalry.
Actually, the whole film needs more tension. There aren’t enough factors at play to keeping the two lovers apart to make their romance seem exciting, disappointing, considering the wartime setting. If the most of the movie didn’t take place during Ernest’s respite period, this could have been easily avoided. I think the filmmakers expected the most of the tension to actually come out of the sexual dynamic from the age differences of the two lovers. Unfortunately, this tension is not enough to sustain the film.
In Love and War may suffer from a myriad of issues but mainly pacing issues such as the last arc of the film is too short and too disjointed from most of the movie. The last arc is where most of the conflict happens, but it’s too rushed to be memorable. In Love and War still, has many moments of genuine human warmth. To be facetious with the title, In Love and War has too much love but not war or tension to make that love thrilling enough.